The commission of inquiry delving into the tragic Marshalltown fire that claimed over 70 lives in Johannesburg’s inner city has stated its lack of awareness about the Department of Home Affairs’ intention to deport witnesses. EWN reports that the deadly fire occurred in August, devastating a five-storey building and displacing hundreds. Presently, 32 undocumented migrants from the affected building are detained at the Lindela Repatriation Centre, awaiting the outcome of a legal battle opposing their deportation. The Norton Rose Fulbright law firm is actively challenging the Home Affairs’ application to repatriate the victims before the inquiry concludes its proceedings. While the commission did not compile a definitive list of witnesses, there is a looming possibility that individuals may face deportation if the high court sides with the Department of Home Affairs.
Advocate Thulani Makhubela, the spokesperson for the commission, stressed the need to assess the significance of potential evidence from individuals facing deportation. He acknowledged the possible need to formulate a plan for the return of witnesses to the country if deportation occurs. Makhubela highlighted the uncertainty surrounding whether the commission’s evidence team had engaged with any of the 32 undocumented migrants. The commission, postponed indefinitely due to safety compliance issues, is contemplating resuming its work in the first week of December. The unfolding legal and immigration challenges add complexity to the inquiry, requiring careful consideration of witness participation amid potential deportation proceedings.
Picture: X / Koena_xM
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